As shorter days and cooler temperatures slowly push us indoors, it's time to hunker down with friends and family, cook hearty meals, and savor the darker, richer beers of fall. Thankfully, local brewers are crafting delicious seasonal beers to help smooth the transition. We picked seven toasty brews that bring autumn to your glass.
21st Amendment's Camino (Un) Real
21st Amendment, in collaboration with Stone Brewing and Firestone Walker Brewing Co., created this dark, strong ale that combines the meaty richness of a stout with the assertive hoppiness of an IPA. An additional mélange of dried mission figs, pink peppercorns, fennel and chia seeds brings herbal, fruit and spice notes to this sumptuous 9.5 percent ABV beer. The brew takes its name from the historical mission trail, El Camino Real (now highway 101), which linked California's 21 Spanish Missions and also links the three breweries. Four packs of the beer are available locally now. // 563 2nd St. (SoMa), 21st-amendment.com
Photo courtesy of Anchor Brewing Co.
Anchor Brewing Co.'s Barrel Aged Old Foghorn Barleywine
Anchor resurrected the American barleywine style more than 40 years ago and is harkening back to the past again to release a barrel-aged version later this month. Anchor aged this heady 11 percent ABV barleywine in Old Potrero Rye Whiskey Barrels for a year to make a velvety-smooth sipper with a subtle rye whiskey bite. If you can't wait for the 22-ounce bombers to drop on store shelves, visit the brewery on Wednesday, November 16 for the bottle-release party. Get tickets and details here. // 1705 Mariposa St. (Bernal Heights), anchorbrewing.com
Almanac Beer Company's Grand Cru
Almanac recently released two Grand Cru beer-wine hybrids: a red and a white. The red, an imperial sour ale fermented with California Zinfandel and Petite Sirah grapes, raspberries and vanilla beans, was aged in French red-wine barrels for 12 months. The white is an imperial sour blonde ale fermented with California Muscat grapes and apricots, also aged in French wine barrels for a year. Both of these meticulously crafted ales are bottled in 750 mL and have limited availability. However, with 10.5 percent ABV, they will age well, so if you like barrel-aged sours, pick up what you can now. // almanacbeer.com
Photo courtesy of Speakeasy Ales and Lagers.
Speakeasy's Betrayal Imperial Red Ale
After a two-year hiatus, Speakeasy is again releasing their Betrayal Imperial Red Ale again later this month. Betrayal has a deep-amber color and a creamy head. Aromas of tropical fruit and orange blossom mingle with caramel and toasted malts. A juicy burst of stone fruits and citrus balance the crisp rye notes. If you want an early taste, visit the tap room next Saturday, November 12. // 1195 Evans Ave. (Bayview-Hunters Point), goodbeer.com
Drake's Brewing Co.'s Jolly Rodger Imperial Dark Ale
Each fall, for more than 20 years, Drake's has used a different recipe to brew Jolly Rodger. Brewmaster John Gillooly describes this year's version as a "Transcontinental Winter Warmer." It's made with a hearty concoction of specialty malts, candi sugar, and an especially aromatic yeast strain. The 2016 Jolly Rodger has notes of caramel, earthy spice, and sun-dried raisins. Drake's is hosting a free and family-friendly release party at their San Leandro location on Saturday, November 12, starting at noon. It's a Caribbean feast as well, so come dressed as a pirate for a chance to win some Drake's loot. // 1933 Davis St. (San Leandro), drinkdrakes.com
Local Brewing Co.'s Excelsior! Vienna Lager
Named after Vienna Street in San Francisco's Excelsior neighborhood, this hearty, amber-hued Vienna Lager is available at Local's brewery now. The beer's firm, malty backbone is brightened by aromatic notes of cherry and toasty malt, making it a tasty and comforting autumn brew. // 69 Bluxome St. (Mission Bay), localbrewingcom
Photo courtesy of Nick Gingold.
Firestone Walker Brewing Company's Merlin Oatmeal Stout
Firestone Walker recently released its 2016 version of Velvet Merlin, a silky oatmeal stout specially brewed to warm you on a cold night. "I have a real soft spot for oatmeal stouts," said brewmaster Matt Brynildson. "The Velvet Merlin recipe is from my homebrew days. It's pretty straightforward, and it's all about the malt." This decadent beer offers robust cocoa and espresso aromas with subtle American hop nuances. Rich dark-chocolate and roasted-coffee flavors accentuate a creamy mouthfeel and dry finish to create perfect balance in this full-bodied stout. Available in 22 ounce bombers now. // 1400 Ramada Dr. (Paso Robles) firestonebeer.com